Vigo Casino License Winner Will Be Named on November 17th

Casino Floor with Slot Machines and Table Games
The operator for the latest gambling destination in the Hoosier State will be revealed next month.

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, they will be naming the Vigo casino license winner during their November 17th meeting after evaluating the applicants. However, they won’t be able to issue the winning party’s casino license immediately.

Said Indiana Gaming Commission deputy Director Jenny Reske:

“The Indiana Gaming Commission at its Nov. 17 meeting will be able to evaluate the applicants and the commission would be in a position to make a selection, but issuing a (casino) license is complicated by the fact that there is a Lucy Luck appeal pending and a stay has been granted by the administrative law judge. As a practical matter, we won’t be able to issue a casino license on November 17th.”

Lucy Luck Appeal

Last June, the Indiana Gaming Commission voted unanimously not to renew the casino license previously granted to Lucy Luck LLC, citing funding and staffing concerns. Shortly after that, the Indiana Gaming Commission started accepting applications and set a September 22 deadline for applicants.

However, Lucy Luck, which was planning to build a Rocksino by Hard Rock Casino in Terry Haute, appealed the commission’s decision and the fate of that is now in the court. Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Gamboa has set a status hearing for November 16th with a formal hearing scheduled in December. Pending the resolution of the appeal, the Indiana Gaming Commission says that it cannot issue the Vigo casino license after naming the winning applicant.

The Only Applicant in 2019

Formerly known as Spectacle Gaming, Lucy Luck LLC is majority owned by Terry Haute businessman and philanthropist Greg Gibson. It was the only applicant for a Terry Haute project in 2019. Lucy Luck was supposed to run the day-to-day operations of the Hard Rock-branded Terry Haute casino project.

However, after the Indiana Gaming Commission’s decision not to renew the Lucy Luck license, Hard Rock bought the majority ownership of Spectacle Entertainment and the Hard Rock Casino Northern indiana while making its own run for the Vigo casino license.

EBCI Holdings Celebrates Acquisition of Caesars Southern Indiana

Caesars Southern Indiana Casino Image
The new owners of the Caesars Southern Indiana held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday to celebrate its acquisition of the Harrison County property.

EBCI Holdings was established by North Carolina’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to diversify the tribe’s economy by expanding assets in the commercial gaming and hospitality business. Now they have their first property outside North Carolina.

Said EBCI Chief Principal Richard Sneed:

“While we are committed to providing the best entertainment and gaming for our guests, we are equally committed to our employees, their families and the Southern Indiana and Louisville communities.”

First Property in Indiana

The Caesars Southern Indiana is EBCI Holding’s first foray into commercial gaming and is also their first property in the Hoosier State. EBCI Holdings also operates two tribal casinos in North Carolina. Both properties are managed by Caesars Entertainment.

The final sale of the 110,000 square foot casino was approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission last August. Last December, EBCI reached a $250M agreement with Caesars Sportsbook to acquire the casino.Caesars Entertainment was obligated to sell the property as part of the conditions for its $17 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts last year.

Improve on an Outstanding Foundation

Despite the change in ownership, the Caesars Southern Indiana will retain its Caesars branding and it will continue to use the Caesars Rewards. Likewise, the new owners said that they also have retained 100% the casino’s close to 900 employees, including General Manager Brad Seigel and the senior management team.

EBCI also said that it is currently looking to improve the hotel, food and beverage options. However, changes will be limited to those as according to Sneed, they didn’t come in to turn things upside down but instead improve on what is already an outstanding foundation.

Indiana Gaming Commission Receives Four Applications for Vigo County Casino

Casino Floor with Slot Machines and Table Games

The Indiana Gaming Commission posted a list of companies who have applied for the Vigo County Casino license after the deadline for the submission of applications passed at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Per the Commission’s website, the applicant are Churchill Downs, Full House Resorts, Inc, Hard Rock Terre Haute, and Terre Haute Entertainment. No other details in the application were mentioned in the publication.

In a statement, IGC executive director Greg Small said:

“We are very pleased with the level of interest in the Vigo County casino license and look forward to a competitive selection process. The work to evaluate these proposals begins immediately, with the goal of setting a Commission meeting date for official action before the end of the year.”

Vigo County Casino License Reopening

The application for the Vigo County casino license was reopened last July 1 after the Commission denied the annual renewal of Lucy Luck Gaming LLC. In its June 24 ruling, the IGC found Lucy Luck ineligible for a license renewal after “extensive review and considering all statutory and regulatory qualifications for renewal”.

The IGC also expressed concerns on Luck Luck’s financing was not complete. It also said that an executive team has yet to be set up. Lucy Luck has appealed the decision of the Commission but the issue is still pending. It remains to be seen how the appeal will affect the process of applications.

Applicants Submitted Detailed Proposals

Applicants were required to submit to the Commission a detailed proposal including “the proposed gaming facilities and proposed non gaming amenities, including any lodging facilities, dining facilities and retail facilities, at the proposed casino” while also paying a $50,000 application fee.

With the application period closed, the IGC will now conduct investigations on the applicants before determining a future date for “Commission action at a business meeting”. The disclosable portion of the proposals will be made available to the public in the coming days.

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana Partners With ESPN 1000 For White Sox Radio

MLB White Sox Tim Anderson With Sportsbook Background

The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana has partnered with The Chicago White Sox and Good Karma Brands for its radio broadcasts.

Beginning September, Hard Rock Northern Indiana will become the naming rights sponsor of the White Sox Radio Network.

Said Mike Thomas, Market Manager of ESPN 1000 in a statement:

“Partnering with the Chicago White Sox late last year was monumental for ESPN Chicago! Now, to partner with Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana to present the naming rights of the White Sox Network to White Sox fans throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa is remarkable. I want to thank Matt Schuffert and Joe Branchik and the Hard Rock team! I can’t wait to hear Len Kasper say: ‘The ESPN 1000 Hard Rock Casino White Sox Network’ each game for years to come.”

Multi-year Agreement

The multi-year agreement will run through the 2023 MLB season and Hard Rock Casino will be part of the White Sox broadcast from Spring Training all the way to the postseason. The gambling company will also receive daily exposure during ESPN 1000 national and local broadcasts.

Under the new deal, fans will be able to listen to the ESPN 1000 Hard Rock Casino White Sox Network via ESPN 1000, 103.HD2, and the ESPN Chicago App.

ESPN 1000 was previously the exclusive radio partner of the Chicago White Sox from 1999 to 2005.

White Sox Have Bounced Around on Radio

After the White Sox’s radio contract with WSCR expired in 2015, the team has bounced around on radio. WLS-890 was supposed to be the flagship station of the White Sox from 2016 through 2021 but Cumulus Media, the owner of WLS, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2017, forcing the White Sox to move to WGN.

Last November, the Chicago White Sox organization and ESPN 1000 entered into an agreement that made the latter the White Sox’s 4th radio home since 2015.

The deal commenced with the White Sox’s first game of the Cactus League last February 27th and it includes all regular season, playoff, and spring training games of the franchise.

Guitar-Smashing Event Marks Opening of Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino

Hard Rock Atlantic City
Two decades after first proposed land-based casino in Gary, The Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino opened its doors to the public last Friday.

In an event only Hard Rock could pull off, the Indiana casino’s opening was marked by more more than two dozen casino officials, local dignitaries, and popular musicians smashing logo-emblazoned guitars in front of sparkler fireworks, backed up by the sound of Fall out Boy’s “Light ‘Em Up”.

But more than the star-studded, guitar-smashing, rock and roll event that took place, the opening was regarded as the start of a promising future for Steel City.

A $300M Gambling and Entertainment Destination

The $300M gambling and entertainment destination replaces the former Majestic Star Casinos that operated from Lake Michigan from Gary’s Buffington Harbor for the past quarter of a century. It is the first land-based commercial Indiana casino built away from its dockside location.

The Hard Rock in Gary includes a casino that has 1,600 slot machines and 80 table games, five restaurants including a Hard Rock Cafe, a 1,954-seat Hard Rock Live performance venue, a gift shop, and an on-site sportsbook. The casino is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Guests, including those at its restaurants, must be at least 21 years old to enter.

Building Local Partnerships

Sen. Eddie Melton, a proponent of the 20119 Indiana law authorizing the relocation of the Gary Casino, said that the opening of the Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino opens the door for economic growth and endless opportunities. Melton talked about Gary going from one of the state’s lowest income-generating casinos at Buffington Harbor to a location with over 200,000 cars a day passing by.

The Hard Rock Casino in Gary employs around 1,200 locals across the property and has pledged to prioritize Gary and Northern Indiana companies in its spending just as it did during its construction phase. Hard Rock says it will continue to build local partnerships and help local vendors provide products and services to the Indiana casino.

Indiana Grand Set to Undergo $32M Expansion

Indiana Grand Casino Logo With Property Images
Caesars Entertainment announced plans to expand Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville. The $32M project is set to begin in two weeks and is expected to be completed before the end of the year with Indianapolis-based Wilhelm Construction contracted to work on the project.

The expansion will add 25,000 square feet to the racino’s gaming floor, which in turn will allow an additional 100 slot machines and 25 table games. It is also expected to create 100 new jobs for the Indiana casino industry.

Per Mike Rich, senior vice president and general manager of Indiana Grand:

“Since the implementation of table games in early 2020, we have looked forward to expanding our gaming operations, This growth will allow us to accommodate more guests and add more talented team members to the Indiana Grand family.”

World Class Poker Room

Part of the expansion is the creation of a 5,000 square foot World Series of Poker-themed poker room with 20 tables. However, the connection of its poker room to the poker series is more than just branding. It will allow players to actually qualify for World Series of Poker tournaments.

Likewise, Caesars also said that new hospitality, entertainment, and restaurants in the Indiana casino will be announced in the coming months as these are still subject to the approval of the city of Shelbyville and the Indiana Gaming Commission.

One of Indiana’s Most Lucrative Casinos

The Indiana Grand is one of the largest and most lucrative Indiana casinos. According to data from the Indiana Gaming Commission, the racino currently operates with a total of 1,084 slot machines and 61 tables games. Once the planned expansion is complete, only Horseshoe Hammond will have more table games among Indiana casinos.

With racinos finally allowed to offer live table games in 2020, the Indiana Grand generated more than $30M in tax revenues for the Hoosier State. That contribution ranked only second to Horseshoe Hammond’s $49.7M remittance, per information from the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Commitment to Indiana

According to Caesars President and COO Anthony Carano, the company’s investment in the Indiana Grand is a “testament to Caesars Entertainment’s commitment to Indiana.” When the Eldorado merger was consummated last year, Caesars was stipulated to keep only two properties in the state. The company retained Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park in Anderson, both racinos and located within a half-hour drive from Indianapolis.

Caesars reached a deal to sell Tropicana Evansville to Bally’s Entertainment last fall and last December, it announced an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for the sale of Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth. Caesars now needs to find a buyer for Horseshoe Hammond.

IGC Investigation Could Endanger Indiana Casino Projects

Casino Roulette Table
Indiana casino projects in Terry Haute and Gary could be in peril as authorities conduct an investigation on illegal political contributions involving a casino executive. That probe has expanded to 10 people who may have committed financial misconduct that would violate state casino regulations or laws.

Spectacle Entertainment, the owners of the Gary Casino located along Lake Michigan, are currently working on a replacement $300M inland Casino in Gary and a $125M casino in Terry Haute. But the company is currently under fire due to allegations that its executives funneled company money to the unsuccessful 2016 campaign of a former lawmaker.

Unsuccessful Congressional Bid

The subject lawmaker is Brent Waltz, a former state senator who ran for a congressional seat but was unsuccessful. Waltz was charged with one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions, false statements, and to obstruct justice, one count of making and receiving conduit contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements.

Former Spectacle Entertainment vice president John Keeler saw his casino license suspended last September after an indictment charged him one count of conspiracy to make illegal corporate contributions, false statements, and to obstruct justice, one count of making illegal corporate contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements.

Keeler and fellow Spectacle executive Rod Ratcliff were forced by authorities to give up their ownership in the Terry Haute casino although they allowed one business partner to proceed with the project. The two pushed lawmakers last year to allow Gary’s Casino to move from Lake Michigan to a more strategic location along interstate 80/94 in Gary and permit Terry Haute to become the first new Indiana casino since 2008.

Long Active Lobbyists

Ratcliff was not named in the federal indictment and isn’t facing any criminal charges. He however, resigned as Spectacle’s Chairman and CEO last June but was allowed to keep his share in the company.

Keeler, who was a Republican legislator for 16 years during the 80s and 90s, and Ratcliff have long been active lobbyists in the Indiana legislature on casino matters and were the owners of the two central Indiana horse track casinos until the time they were sold to Caesars Entertainment in 2018.

The Terry Haute Casino is being spearheaded by a company called Spectacle Jack. The firm is led by Greg Gibson, a businessman from Terry Haute who is also the vice-chairman of Spectacle Entertainment. In a statement released last Tuesday, Spectacle Entertainment said that Gibson wasn’t a subject of the investigation but is cooperating with state officials.

Caesars Gets One Year Reprieve For Horseshoe Casino Sale

Casino Roulette Table
The Indiana Gaming Commission has granted Caesars Entertainment more time to sell the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.

On Monday, the IGC unanimously agreed to give Caesars a one-year reprieve to sell the Indiana casino. The commissioners sided with IGC executive director Sarah Tait who opined that selling the Horseshoe Casino right now “presents unique challenges” that include the uncertainty over the gaming expansion in illinois and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gaming industry in general.

She mentioned the lease agreement on the property as one of the reasons. The rapid expansion of the Illinois gaming market on the Chicago area of the region. Likewise, Trait mentioned the pandemic causing uncertainty in the gaming market.

Per Tait:

“Granting relief regarding divestiture timing is in the best interest of the state and local community, and will not negatively impact operations at the property.”

Complying With IGC’s Stipulations

The Horseshoe Casino is one of three Indiana casinos that the gaming giant must sell to comply with the IGC’s stipulations for El Dorado’s $17.3B acquisition of Caesars. The sales was directed to prevent an “undue economic concentration of the state’s gaming industry following the merger.

Last month, Caesars announced the sale of Tropicana Evansville to Twin River Worldwide Holdings for $480M. Earlier this month, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed a letter of intent that gives the North Carolina tribal nation a 45-day period to buy Caesars Southern Indiana.

Caesars is retaining Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. The two racinos are the only properties that are situated less than an hour away from Indianapolis. Aside from that, state legislature has allowed the two tracks to offer table games this year. Caesars is planning to infuse a combined $60M to add more table games to both spots

Biggest Casino in the State

The Horseshoe Casino is the biggest Indiana casino. Located less than a mile from Chicago and the state line of Illinois, it has 2,135 electronic games and 1,105 table positions which are the most by any Indiana casino.

Per the Gaming Commission’s annual report, the Horseshoe Casino generated a revenue of $309.3M during the fiscal year. That amount is $85M more than the income of the second-largest Indiana casino. It also generated $99.8M in taxes which was nearly double the $51.1M paid by the Indiana Grand.

Horseshoe’s $24.9M in local development agreement funding outpaced the next closest Indiana casinos combined. Hotel Lawrenceburg, Tropicana, and Ameristar East Chicago which have a total of $23.1M.